Artist Warren Long – lover of life and appreciator of nature
By Simone Kussatz
Artist Warren Long has been working as a professional artist for more than 20 years. He’s a regular at Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica, which has showcased his work since 1996. Aside from numerous other galleries in California, his paintings have been exhibited in Milan, Italy and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
However, before Long got into painting, he first started out as a functional artist, making sculpted furniture, such as carved peacock chairs and large fish tables for Tops Gallery in Malibu. Influenced by artist Jim Wagner, known for his Santa Fe style furniture and paintings, Long explained that working with furniture became too labor intensive for him. “I’m not a carpenter,” he said. “What I wanted to do was to splash paint onto canvas. There is an immediate gratification in that.”
The California artist has also been known for his murals. One of his largest ones can be seen behind a high-school at Morning view Drive in Malibu. "They're a lot of work, but I like doing them. I use scaffolds."
Yet, Warren Long hasn’t always followed an artistic path. Before his brother’s death, he wanted to become a doctor and majored in ecological systematic biology at San Francisco State University. He only minored in art. But the frequent visits in the hospital to see his brother, who was an artist, made him realize that he’s more inclined to the artistic world. “I couldn’t see myself being so exact, doling out medicine. I’m too casual for that. Yet, medicine and anatomy still interest me and I often apply this to my paintings.”
Long- a prolific and versatile artist - spent part of his childhood in Mexico. His collection of work consists of animals, flowers, figurative, landscape and seascape paintings, in which he often adds skeletons and skulls to his imagery. “It’s probably, because I lived in Mexico, where they celebrate the Day of the Dead. To me death is a natural thing. I find skulls striking. You certainly will notice them.”
Long has developed his own style. He combines beauty and nature with unusual settings. Therefore his style is easy to recognize and one cannot pigeonhole him. From humorous images such as hula hooping penguins or a floating pig to elegant water ballet swimmers and lavish flower bouquets, Long knows how to express himself visually in a unique way, allowing his mind to fantasize without limits. “This is what’s going on in my head”, Long explained. “I like pigs. They are sweet. They’re kind of god’s jokes. My brother actually raised some. As far as the swimmers in the ocean - my wife was a synchronized swimmer and I tried to do that, it’s a lot harder than it looks. But I think it’s beautiful. It’s kind of funny too. It’s hilarious and beautiful.”
In addition Long has a collection of works where different atmospheres dominate the canvas, such as “Moonlit” or “Blue Number 18”, one depicting a lagoon at night and the other a life-guard station. “My wife and I like to go out swimming a lot. I find the life-guard stations comfortable and beautiful. Often there is not even a person in there, but just the fact they exist turn them into sanctuaries. Theoretically, they are there to help you if you’re drowning. There is something pretty about them. I’ve done quite a few of those with different color combinations.”
Aside from being an established artist, Long also teaches art. Among his students were actor Mel Gibson’s children who came to learn from him, when he was still teaching at a private school in Malibu. Now Gibson’s son has followed in his teacher’s footsteps and also exhibits his art work at Hamilton Galleries.
Among Long's collectors are Harry Shearer & Judith Owen, Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub, Robert and Leslie Zemeckis, Ozzie & Sharon Osborne.
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